At least 20 states to increase minimum wage starting Saturday

At least 20 states are beginning the new year by increasing their minimum wages, while Puerto Rico and several cities and counties are also bumping up pay for workers in 2022.

A total of 26 states will have minimum wage increases go into effect in 2022, with wage hikes beginning in 22 states on Jan. 1, according to Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., a company providing information on finance, regulatory compliance and the law.

A wage increase in New York state began a day earlier, taking effect on Friday.

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Additionally, 56 cities and counties are increasing the minimum wage in 2022, the National Employment Law Center reported. Thirty-five of those local increases are also going into effect on Jan. 1.

“These minimum wage increases indicate moves toward ensuring a living wage for people across the country,” said Deirdre Kennedy, the senior payroll analyst at Wolters Kluwer, in a Dec. 15 statement.

According to Wolters Kluwer, the highest rate hike comes from the city of West Hollywood, Ca., which is implementing a $17.64 minimum rate of pay per hour for hotel workers, which the company says is the highest minimum wage in the country.

The minimum wage in California as a whole on Saturday was bumped up to $15 for businesses with 26 or more employees, per the company. Parts of New York state, including New York City, also implemented a $15 minimum wage starting Friday.

By the end of the year, the minimum wage in 49 states and municipalities will meet or exceed $15, according to Wolters Kluewer.

Per the company, the minimum wage in ten more states will reach $15 within the next few years after scheduled pay increases are completed. Those states include Maryland, Florida, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

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Puerto Rico, where the minimum wage has stayed at $7.25 since the federal minimum was bumped to that amount in 2009, increased its minimum wage to $8.50 on Saturday.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Hispanic Caucus lawmaker won't attend meeting with VP Harris's new aide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE (I-Vt.), a longtime critic of corporations and a champion of workers, applauded the minimum wage increases in a tweet on Saturday morning.

"The overwhelming majority of the American people understand that we must end starvation wages in America," he wrote.

Sanders also called on the government to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, a move Democrats have recently tried to accomplish through the reintroduction of the Raise the Wage Act in Congress last year and an amendment to the COVID-19 relief bill in 221.

Last April, Biden signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour, and requiring all agencies to implement the increase by March of this year.

About 20 states, roughly half of which are in the south, have kept their minimum wages at the federal rate, according to the National Employment Law Center.

The pandemic has spurred renewed efforts to increase the minimum wage. Last year saw a significant push from workers for better pay and unionization. Companies from Starbucks to Amazon to John Deere all seen employee strikes or unionization efforts in 2021.

The Twitter page for Fightfor15, a movement pushing for a $15 minimum wage, noted in a post on Saturday that workers are still earning low wages across the country.

"Fast-food companies like @McDonalds are still out here trying to hire workers with low wages while making billions. It's past time to #RaiseTheWage. #Fightfor15," the movement tweeted on Saturday.